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Re: The contribution of the private sector and civil society to improve nutrition

30.09.2013
Future of Agricultural Economics

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” 
― Phil Jackson

Developing counties are usually richly endowed with natural resources such as; arable land and favorable environment for agriculture - even though they are mostly populated by malnourished persons. Although Guyana’s labour force is heavily concentrated in the agricultural sector; the struggle to attain food security (as highlighted in our previous post) is due to the gap between the technological capabilities within agricultural sectors in developing and industrialized nations. The Private Sector and Civil Society are major stakeholders in the quest to improve nutrition; especially when both entities collaborate with the government.

 It is therefore our intention to highlight three major strategic frameworks that were implemented in Guyana collectively by the Private Sector, Civil Society and the Government.

Firstly, the “Grow More Food Campaign” was launched in 2009 in response to rising fuel prices which resulted in global increases in prevailing food prices. This approach consisted of five plans which were necessary in order to maintain Guyana’s presence in the international market, while improving status and competence of local farmers:

  • -Implementation of US$21.9M Agricultural Export Diversification Project (ADP).
  • -Implementation of US$6M Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Development Project. (READ).
  • -Increased investment in Drainage and Irrigation.
  • -Enhanced extension service (Agricultural Training Institutes)
  • -Increased Availability of seeds and planting materials.

            The second framework; “Food and Nutrition Security in Guyana (2010-2020)” which was linked to the first, was concocted to address four key dimensions of food security: availability, stability, access, and utilization. This collaboration is considered to be a commendable one among the Government, Private Sector and Civil Society. The main objectives are:

  • -Help ensure immediate access to food in emergency context
  • -Rebuild and enhance resilience to withstand shocks
  • -Support longer term development initiatives for hunger and poverty reduction
  • -Take stock of national, regional and global initiatives directed at improving food security coordination, with a view to encourage convergence and avoid duplication among such initiatives
  • -Improving sharing of information on food security and nutrition policies-Inform the National Assembly about the success and challenges to reduce hunger and malnutrition in Guyana
  • -Ensure that agricultural trade fosters food security
  • -Promote rural development
  • -Enhance women’s access to resources
  • -Ensure children and other vulnerable groups have access to food
  • -Ensure sustainable income of small producers

The third framework; “Jagdeo Initiative” is more extensive than those previously mentioned, since the policies are on a regional rather than local level. This model is a fast track attempt to address pressing issues such as; the volatility of price levels and food production due to climate change, poverty, nutrition issues (Disaster Risk Management) and even marketing of the agricultural sector (Agribusiness) in the entire Caribbean region.

The goals of the Jagdeo Initiative include: increased private and public investment in Agriculture, increased Agriculture production and hence, employment in the sector, increased intra and extra regional agricultural trade, improved food security and nutrition. However, constraints include occurrences of praedial larceny, inefficient land and water systems, lack of technology and skills in agriculture and lack of investment, among others.

In conclusion, these three frameworks have been successful in Guyana by establishing significant coordination and partnerships among the Government, Private Sector and Civil Society, by enhancing the importance of the agricultural Sector. Production levels and employment have increased, in addition to improved technology and food accessibility.

As a result, Guyana has slashed the proportion of its population suffering from hunger; in accordance with the first MDG to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Nutrition levels have also improved; malnutrition among children in 1997 was 11.8%, while in 2008 data showed that 6% of children under 5 experienced mild to moderate malnutrition and less than 1% suffered from severe malnutrition.

In addition, Guyana is proceeding to accomplish the second MDG (as a matter of fact, all), which is to achieve universal primary education. Enrollment in primary schools in 2000 was above 95% and the survival rate of children entering grade 1 and reaching grade 6 from 2006-2009 has consistently been 90%.  

Sources:

Food and Nutrition Strategy (2010-2020) (Working Draft). (2009). Government of Guyana (Ministry of Agriculture) .

Food and Nutrition Strategy for Guyana. (April 2011). Government of Guyana (Ministry of Agriculture) .

Food Security in Caricom. (July 2011). Caricom View .

(2011). Millennium Development Goals- Guyana Progress Report. UNDP.